Airline food

Airlines growing their own food? It’s a thing.

Airlines growing their own food? It’s a thing. Korean Air recently invited me to visit the company’s ranch in South Korea where they farm livestock,  chicken, veggies, fruit and bottle their own water to serve to passengers.

Other airlines have farming projects underway as well.

I have story – with lots of photos- from my farm visit on USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky. Here are some highlights of the story.

Back in 1972, when beef was in short supply in South Korea, the then chairman of Korea Air’s parent group bought a 3,700 acre ranch on South Korea’s Jeju Island.

Imported Angus cattle got things started, but now the herd is about 2,200 Korean native cattle known as Hanwoo.

Meat from these animals, and from the farm’s flock of approximately 6000 free-range chickens, is sent to Korean Air’s flight catering kitchens in Seoul for use in meals served to first and business-class passengers.

In addition to raising cows and chickens, the ranch also produces fruit, vegetables – and bottled water – for Korean Air passengers.

The water bottling plant at the ranch has been operating for 35 years and there they make and fill cups and bottles of the airline’s branded ‘Hanjin Jeju Pure Water.’  The water is pumped from 1,070 feet underground and filtered through layers of the island’s volcanic rock.

Other airlines explore agriculture

In 2015 JetBlue debuted a large milk-crate garden outside Terminal 5 at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. Potatoes, vegetables and herbs grown there are donated to local food banks.

Japan Air Lines is creating a ‘you-pick’ agritourism attraction on land near Tokyo’s Narita International Airport that is scheduled to open in 2020. The carrier hopes to add food grown on that farm to in-flight and lounge menus.

And Emirates is having the world’s largest vertical farming facility built near the Dubai airport.  At full production, the daily harvest from the the 130,000-square foot facility should be about three tons of pesticide-free leafy greens that will be used in many of the meals Emirates Flight Catering prepares for 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges.

 

Snaps from Korean Air’s farm on Jeju Island

Korean Air’s ranch on Jeju Island in Korea produces beef, chicken, vegetables and fruit for some of the meals served to passengers in first and business class. The airline also bottles its own mineral water.

I spent a day on the farm – and at the bottling plant – for a story that will appear later this month on USA TODAY, but sharing some snaps from the day here.

Jedong Ranch started raising livestock in 1973 with imported Angus. Today the herd is roughly 2000 Korean native cattle – Hanwoo – fed with on grass and grain from the ranch.

The ranch also raises about 6000 native chickens, selling fertilized eggs locally and providing chicken for in-flight meals.

Greenhouses on the ranch produce tons of bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and seasonal blueberries.

And the water plant bottles highly-regarded water that has been pumped from an underground well and filtered through basalt and volcanic stone.

Stay tuned fro more pictures and details from y day at the Korean Air ranch.

Southwest Airlines nixes peanuts starting August 1

Giving way to the concerns of passengers who have peanut allergies, Southwest Airlines has announced that, as of August 1, it will stop serving those tiny little packets of peanuts during flights.
“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA,” the airline said in a statement, “However, to ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning August 1.”
On its website, Southwest has told passengers with peanut allergies that if they made a note in their reservation, an effort would be made to make sure no peanuts would be served on their flights. But that didn’t always work out.
Other airlines stopped serving peanuts long ago, but for Southwest peanuts are part of the company’s branding. The airline is often “nuts” about this or that and has a quarterly newsletter called “In a Nutshell.”
Starting next month, the airline hopes passengers will pleased with the pretzels that continue to be served on flights, along with the other free snacks distributed on longer flights.

“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers—including those with peanut-related allergies—feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight,” Southwest said in its statement.

Airline food that’s out of this world

When astronauts do a stint on the International Space Station they may request and bring along “bonus” snacks and meals for special occasions.

This summer, passengers departing on Lufthansa’s long-haul flights from Germany can “Eat like an astronaut” by ordering one of the dishes, Chicken Ragout with Mushrooms, that the airline’s kitchens prepared for German European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, who set out for the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6.

Keeping in mind the special requirements of space food – i.e. that it will be consumed in zero gravity – Lufthansa says its LSG Group Culinary Excellence Team worked with the European Space Agency to provide six special meals for Gerst and the Horizons mission.

“The collection includes typical dishes from the astronaut’s home region, Swabia, such as Maultaschen and Spätzle,” said Lufthansa in a statement, “In order to ensure that the meals fulfilled the specific health and safety requirements of the mission, the LSG Group team designed them as low sodium and able to maintain a shelf life of two years.”

Not flying Lufthansa this summer? Through late October, the business premier menu on Air New Zealand flights from Los Angeles to Auckland will include the popular vegetarian hamburger called the Impossible Burger.

Courtesy Air New Zealand

“Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants,” notes ANZ, “The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever.”

Sounds like space food to me.

Travel Tidbits: from United and JetBlue

United Airlines will open its Polaris lounge at San Francisco International Airport (at Gate  G92) on April 30 to passengers traveling in the premium cabin travel.

The two-level, 28,000 square foot lounge has 440 seats, 492 power outlets and USB ports, 5 daybeds with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, 8 shower suites, valets who will steam garments for you, a bistro-like buffet and a restaurant-style dining area.

At the bar, they’ll be serving cocktails inspired by the Bay Area including, says United, the Mai Tai, invented in Oakland in 1944, and the Pisco Punch, “featuring pisco which became all the rage during the California Gold Rush of 1849.”

Not flying through SFO? In addition to this new lounge and the existing one at Chicago O’Hare, United will open Polaris lounges at Newark Liberty International Airport in early June, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston this summer and at Los Angeles International Airport this fall.

United also introduced some food and beverage upgrades for passengers on board.

Starting May 1, pasengers can purchase egg and chicken chorizo tacos (breakfast/$8.99) and barbecue chicken sandwiches (lunch/dinner; $9.99) from the inflight menu and some interesting new beers and ales, including Lagunitas Sumpin’ Easy Ale, New Belgium’s Citradelic Tangerine IPA and, this summer,  Belgian pilsner Stella Artois ($7.99 each). 

For those flying on JetBlue’s Mint flights, be sure to open and take home the limited-edition amenity kit.

In addition to a keeper pair of SuperSoft socks from Basic Outfitters, the kit includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask, screen wipe, pen, earplugs and pillow pack, and a Hudson Made New York trio of lip salve, facial mist and hand cream – all tucked in a Hayward and Hopper collaboratively designed travel bag inspired by Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward’s Los Angeles home circa 1963.